Book: Ceramics - Art or Science? Author: Dr. Stan Jones

11. Pottery Technology 2

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Monogram of Edward Raby on centrepiece and signature of John Stinton on a vase

Monogram of Edward Raby on centrepiece and
signature of John Stinton on a vase

Sometimes pieces have the painter’s signatures within the painted pattern. Unfortunately Horoldt at Meissen in the 18th century forbade his painters from identifying themselves, although one, Stadler, used to hide his monogram within the decoration. Edward Raby at Worcester also painted his monogram within his designs, but with permission! Signatures are much more common in the 20th century, for example on Worcester hand painted wares, such as the rural scenes painted by the Stinton family.

11.17 Faking Porcelain

Porcelain faking started in earnest in the Renaissance Period as collecting took off and pieces became valuable. In the 18th and 19th centuries, factories often copied marks of their more august competitors, and in particular many European factories have copied the Meissen “crossed swords” mark prodigiously. In Britain alone, companies using marks remarkably similar to Meissen and Sevres included Chelsea, Worcester, Derby, Bristol and Caughley.

Copy of Meissen crossed swords on a saucer by Cookworthy - Reproduced by Permission of Plymouth City council Museums and Archives

Copy of Meissen crossed swords on a saucer
by Cookworthy - Reproduced by Permission
of Plymouth City council Museums and
Archives

Surprisingly even the Chinese copied wares such as Meissen to make their exports to Europe meet the market’s requirements.

Meissen hard paste original cup and saucer, Chinese copy in soft paste porcelain and copied crossed swords mark - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Meissen hard paste original cup and
saucer, Chinese copy in soft paste
porcelain and copied crossed swords mark -
courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Meissen style teapot made in China - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Meissen style teapot made in China -
courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

In the second half of the 19th century faking hit a peak, as demands for originals could not be met. One notable (or notorious) Paris company called Samson made from scratch a large quantity of copies of companies’ wares, such as Worcester, at this time. Other methods used by fakers included painting a white piece from the original factory that already has a genuine factory mark. This was made easier in the second half of the 19th century as factories such as Meissen and Vienna auctioned off large quantities of white ware to cover temporary financial problems.  Alternatively a genuine lightly painted piece might be embellished to increase its value.

Qianlong delicately painted teapot overpainted probably in London 1770-90 - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Qianlong delicately painted teapot
overpainted probably in London 1770-90 -
courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

These two methods result in widely varying quality of painting, from daubs to the product of a skilful artist. However, knowledge of the palette of particular factories helps to detect some fakes as forgers may use the “wrong” colours.

Samson bowl pretending to be Worcester, but wrong shade of green

Samson bowl pretending to be Worcester,
but wrong shade of green

Another method was to change the marks of lesser-known factories for a more expensive one. This can be accomplished by simply covering the mark with gold paint and painting a new mark, however this is fairly obvious. An impression or underglaze mark can be ground off with some difficulty, and the glaze repaired, but this leaves a depression.

One example of forgery on Vienna porcelain was the signed paintings by Angelica Kauffmann who never painted porcelain, and another was the large scale forgery by Bohemian factories that reproduced old Vienna wares after the factory had shut down, but the quality was not as good.

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